Kudos and Kindness from Aspen Times readers (May 24, 2020)
A tribute to Tom Heald
It is a great honor for me to write a letter to a person who left an imprint on my heart, Dr. Tom Heald. All my respect and admiration to you.
One day I received an invitation to participate in Adaptive Schools (AS), offered by the school district to which I proudly belonged, Aspen School District. I signed up for the training and met Tom for the first time. I was very nervous, because I was new to the district and I felt out of place among all the teachers around me who held degrees and were masters at their craft. At that time I just had a single degree in accounting and had nothing to do with early childhood education.
I am a learner and I knew that childhood education was an area of education I knew I had always loved. I felt a huge responsibility to my students and I loved to watch them learn and grow. My feelings of inadequacy fueled my desire to grow as a teacher. I watched and listened to my professors in college, the teachers with whom I worked. I saw their dedication to their students and I began to study and learn from them. My desire to learn from those around me became incredibly strong. As I considered putting myself in a position of attending professional development, I began to feel that I owed it to my students and myself to also be a learner and undertake things that might be difficult, so I signed up for the training.
The AS training started with introductions since some people in the room did not know each other; however, before the participants started, Tom introduced himself first. I will never forget the words he gave to the whole class. “I want to thank everyone for being here, but I want to make sure that all of us understand we are in the same place with this new learning. It matters not what degree you have, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, or how much knowledge you have, or if you come from the best university in the world. We are here because the only thing that matters is your desire and passion to learn content that might be familiar, but may cause you to consider different perspectives, so that as we humble ourselves as learners, we grow in order to serve others in growing as well. … So, welcome everyone.”
Those words were etched into my heart and gave me the confidence I needed to say, “Yes, I can do this! I have the capacity to learn and to be the best I can be each day.” Tom’s humility and professionalism echoed within me and triggered a sense of respect and admiration I had not yet encountered in my professional life. I would like him to know the impact he has had on my professional life. I’d say, “You have left an imprint on my heart and because of you I know the kind of teacher I strive to be each day.” I would also say:
That AS training changed my professional goals. I got to know Tom. I continued to be amazed at his humility knowing that he is well studied in many, many areas of education, yet he doesn’t flaunt his achievements. He will never toot his own horn! We will never choose to put someone down. He is the consummate teacher, leader, colleague and team player. He makes everyone want to do better. Every time you passed him by somewhere on the school campus, you could see or hear him greet the custodian, teacher, or the smallest of the children who were always so happy to say “Hi, Dr. Tom.” He was always kind and always spoke with that particular humility that distinguishes him for others forever.
I also want to thank Dr. Tom for all the times I went and greeted him in his office and told him about my projects. I always reminded him that he was the person who motivated me to improve myself and give my best. I often shared with him how I was doing in school and he always encourages me to keep going. He continues to motivate me. “I am proud of you” and “you can do it” are always words of encouragement. He often tells me he was glad I was part of the school district and that warms my heart.
I know that when he leaves ASD it will be the end of an era that will be no more. My hope is that others, besides myself have learned from him and that his legacy will continue. I decided to write this letter to express my thanks, respect and admiration for Dr. Tom. I know that wherever he goes, so goes the continued humility that characterizes who he is. I rest in the fact that he will never change because he has always been the same person regardless where he is. I pray that he will continue sharing all the wisdom he holds. You are a great man, Dr. Tom Heald. Even though you are a highly educated person in the field of education, you always humble yourself by caring for others regardless of their status. Thank you for the gift of confidence. One day I want to become like you, a doctor of Early Childhood Education. Thank you again and may God bless you wherever you go! I hope to see you soon, keep flying high, you leave this door to enter a bigger one, may God guide and fill you with His blessings always.
No more judging Mulcahy
In the past, I have been openly critical of Lee Mulcahy and his art work. I have questioned many of the outrageous claims he makes about his art. While I am still not a fan of Lee’s art, I will admit that art is subjective and that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. I’m not sure if Lee is a professional artist or just a hobbyist … but I am in no position to judge. I will no longer be among his harshest critics.
Andrew M. Israel